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Gotta speak real English: Foreign accent and L1 speakers' perceptions of nonstandard grammar


Gotta speak real English: Foreign accent and L1 speakers' perceptions of nonstandard grammar

Ruivivar, June (2017) Gotta speak real English: Foreign accent and L1 speakers' perceptions of nonstandard grammar. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Spoken grammar is known to deviate from commonly taught rules of written grammar. For example, Carter and McCarthy (1995) have observed frequent use of topic fronting (this film, have you seen it?) and sentence-initial ellipsis (didn’t expect to see you here) in spoken English. Consequently, several scholars have called for greater attention to spoken grammar in language teaching (e.g., Carter & McCarthy, 1995; Cullen & Kuo, 2007). However, none of these calls have considered potential barriers that learners might encounter when using spoken grammar with L1 speakers.
The present study compares how non-expert L1 English speakers (those without prior linguistic training) perceive the grammatical acceptability of these nonstandard forms when produced by speakers with foreign accents. Ten L1 Tagalog speakers and five L1 English speakers recorded 60 sentences containing one of four spoken grammar constructions: topic fronting, sentence-initial ellipsis, historical present, and disjointed descriptions. These samples were rated for accentedness by 10 raters, which yielded three groups of five: non-accented, moderately accented, and heavily accented. Another group of 10 raters rated the samples on grammaticality, segmental accuracy, and word stress accuracy, using a computer-based sliding scale. The two latter measures helped prevent raters from confounding grammar and pronunciation issues (Varonis & Gass, 1982). A one-way ANOVA revealed a significant effect of foreign accent on perceived grammaticality, with heavily accented speakers receiving harsher judgments than both moderately and non-accented speakers on syntactically equivalent productions. Implications for spoken grammar pedagogy and future research on grammatical perception and spoken grammar are discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Applied Linguistics
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Ruivivar, June
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:February 2017
Thesis Supervisor(s):Collins, Laura
ID Code:982223
Deposited On:17 Nov 2017 18:48
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:54
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